Millets in India

Millets are the coarse/cereal grains which are grown and eaten in Indian Subcontinent for about more than 5000 years.  Millets played a major role in the rise of multi-crop agriculture and settled farming societies. Millets are a rich source of nutrition, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibres. The crop is highly preferred due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions. Millets are grown in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed and mountainous areas.

India is the largest producer of millets world-wide. Some of the millet producing area of India is Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. But in the last six decades, the areas of millet production in India shrink after the Green Revolution in the 1960s.The large amount of area of millet cultivation was provided for other crops and this made immense loss in India’s food and farming systems.

To boost the production of the nutritious millets and the agro-industries involved in its production, the government of India declared 2018 as the “National Year of millets”.

There are two categories to classify millets-

  1. Naked grains – These are the largest cultivated millets, the process after harvest is not required here; they can be used after getting cleaned. Three major crops of this category are Ragi, Jowar and Bajra.
  2. Husked grains – They are quite indigestible due to seed coat. The outside layers of these grains need to be removed to be fit for human consumption. Foxtail millets, Little millets and Kodo millets are popular under this category.

Types of Millets –

English Name of MilletsHindi Name of MilletsCategoryDescription
SorghumJowarNaked GrainsRichness of iron, protein and fibre; reduces cholesterol.
Finger MilletRagiNaked GrainsSubstitute of rice and wheat; completely filled with nutrition, proteins and amino acids, good in development of brain due to its gluten-free nature.
Foxtail MilletKangni/ KakumHusked GrainsUsed in form of semolina or rice flour; it has blood sugar maintaining carbohydrates, helps to strengthen immunity as it is rich in iron and calcium.
Pearl MilletBajraNaked GrainsRich in iron, protein, fibres and mineral like calcium and magnesium; a complete package of health benefits.
Barnyard MilletSanwaHusked GrainsHigh fibre content which helps in losing weight. Rich in calcium and phosphorus; helps in fighting with bone diseases.
Proso millet (broomcorn millet)ChenaHusked GrainsMaintains blood sugar level.
Little MilletMoraiyo/ Kutki/ Shavan/ SamaHusked GrainsPackage of vitamin- B, minerals like potassium, zinc, iron and calcium; works as an antioxidant for body.
AmarnathRajgira/ Ramdana/ Chola-Helps to reduce hair loss and greying; reduces cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease.
BuckwheatKuttu-Helps in losing weight; healthy food especially for diabetics, low blood pressure ones; improves cardiovascular health. Fight against diseases like gallstones, childhood asthma and breast cancer.
Kodu MilletKodonHusked GrainsHas goodness of vitamin B, niacin, B6, folic acid and minerals. Easy to digest and good for nervous system.